Are Armenia’s oligarchs using their financial and political power to block the world’s second-largest retail empire, the French-owned Carrefour Group, from entering the country’s largely monopolized foodstuffs sector? For Armenian consumers beset by high food prices and low incomes, the question has become a matter of principle.
For roughly the past six months, billboards at one of Yerevan’s luxury shopping centers, the Dalma Garden Mall, owned by Russia-based billionaire Samvel Karapetian, have announced the arrival of a 10,000-square-meter Carrefour hypermarket, a facility combining a large supermarket with departments selling electronics, household items, clothes, toys and more.
The discount retail giant, second in size only to Wal-Mart, has already taken a first step into the South Caucasus; in 2012, along with its United-Arab-Emirates-based partner, Majid Al Futtaim, it opened a Carrefour hypermarket outside of Tbilisi, the capital of Armenia’s northern neighbor, Georgia.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.